June, 2016: From Summer Cottage to Full-Time Home

With help from Interior Designer Denise Stringer, a retired NHL player and his family expand their former vacation home with a big addition and an interesting side-by-side design

by Karen Egly-Thompson of Houzz, redistributed with permission

After Eric Weinrich hung up his skates and retired from professional hockey, he returned to his native Maine with his wife, Tracy, their two children and two black Labs. But the place they had enjoyed as a summer home for many years needed some TLC to make it work as their new permanent residence. So they embarked on a renovation to update the cottage home, enlarge the kitchen and build an addition with a master suite, a study, a game room, a powder room and an exercise area, all while maintaining the spirit of the original cottage.


Photos by Jonathan Reece Photography (click on any image to view the entire portfolio online)

At a Glance
Who lives here: Eric and Tracy Weinrich, their children, Ben and Emily, both in college; and two black Labs
Location: Casco Bay, Maine
Size: 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths

It wasn’t difficult to put a team together to get the project in play. The couple knew interior designer Denise Stringer through a mutual friend, and Eric’s father, John, is a retired architect.

Maritime weather had taken a toll on the exterior of the original home over the years. The team removed the old asphalt roof and replaced it with western cedar shake roofing shingles as well as a partial metal roof to help guard against harsh winters.

Here, the restored cottage sits in front of the addition, which is clad in prestained cedar shingles.


They added copper gutters and trim, and replaced the rotted wood-framed windows with aluminum-clad wood windows in the same architectural style. New wood clapboard siding was added and stained with a solid tan latex house stain.


From a side view, the addition on the left and the original house on the right appear as two separate structures, but in fact connect seamlessly by an enlarged kitchen and mudroom area.


There are two ways to access the home: the front entry of the original house, and a second entrance through a mudroom to the right of the garage doors.


Here’s a detail of the mudroom entry.

Siding: prestained cedar shingles, Maibec; trim paint: Gargoyle 1546, Benjamin Moore

Living Room

With all of its charm, the cottage’s original living room sits at the rear of the home. The beams are original to the house but actually predate it: They were reclaimed from a local barn when the home was built. Unfortunately, the previous homeowners stained them a burgundy color, so restoring the beams became part of the renovation.

Here, the original pine wood floors run throughout the main living spaces and vary in width. Stringer says some of them are up to 10 inches wide.

Sanded plaster walls are also original to the home. A plasterer familiar with the technique was sought out to finish the walls throughout the addition to match. “We wanted to match the original sanded plaster walls that were in the summer cottage, so that everything flowed and the transition was smooth between the old and new sections,” Stringer says.

Trim paint: Shelburne Buff HC-28, Benjamin Moore; upholstered chair and sofa: Lee Industries; woven rush bergères, console table and benches: Fremarc Designs; three-legged table: Lorts; area rug: Mougalian Rugs; pottery lamps: Abacus Gallery; pottery accent pieces: Alison Evans

Dining Room

Adjacent to the living room, the dining room shares the same water view and beautiful pared-down finishes.

A custom chandelier above the alder wood dining table mixes an Early American vibe with contemporary design. Its leafy center represents marsh grass, and oyster shells dangle from the candlestick bases.

Chandelier: Lowcountry Originals; dining table and chairs: Fremarc Designs; area rug: Mougalian Rugs; watercolor paintings: David Deran; pottery on table: Alison Evans


An upstairs bedroom in the original cottage is a tranquil getaway for guests. Here, the soft, earthy texture of the sanded plaster walls is more evident. Stringer had simple Roman shades and black-and-white ticking bedding custom-made so as not to detract from the beauty of the plaster and wood.

Trim paint: Intense White OC-51, Benjamin Moore; wrought iron bed frame: Ralph Lauren; armoire, chair and ottoman: Stickley; pine dresser: Lorts; artwork: David Deran and Linden Frederick; area rug: Mougalian Rugs


The soffit running above the kitchen island marks where the original kitchen ended. Now enlarged, the kitchen is roomy and bright, and serves as a natural connection to the addition.

Continuing the warm, rustic cottage vibe, some of the kitchen materials include salvaged beams, wide-plank wood floors, distressed black milk paint and alder wood cabinetry. Granite countertops on the periphery have been flamed and wire-brushed to give them a matte, rustic appearance.

Sitting Room

A dreamy sitting room is to the left of the kitchen in the addition. Reclaimed barn wood was brought in from Pennsylvania for a special ceiling.

Trim paint: Shelburne Buff HC-28, Benjamin Moore; chair and ottoman: Lee Industries; wicker furniture: Maine Cottage; area rug: Mougalian Rugs


A corridor past the sitting room leads to a powder room, shown here, and ends in the game room, as seen in the following image.

Stringer found the concrete sink at an architectural salvage store and combined it with metal legs from a plumbing supply store. The sink’s warm patina enhances the golden tones of the Brazilian slate wall tile.

Wall tile: Brazilian slate, Old Port Specialty Tile Co.; flooring: bluestone

Living Room

Just past the powder room, the corridor leads to an informal game room, with a built-in bar, where the family hangs out, plays games and watches TV. A comfy sectional sofa covered in durable Ultrasuede is large enough for family and guests.

Stringer kept the palette subdued here, like in the rest of the house, to highlight the beauty of the wood and of the plaster wall finish. However, one pop of color comes from an image of Weinrich when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Sofa: Classic Gallery

Living Room

Seen from the bar area, a wall of antique chestnut built-ins surrounds the fireplace, which is made of local ledge rock.


The new master suite sits above the game room. Because the home is on the northern part of the island, it has water views on both sides. The master suite takes advantage of the vantage point on three walls — and is the reason the homeowners dismissed the idea of having any window treatments here. With no privacy concerns and with beautiful views, there was no reason to cover up. Stringer kept the palette neutral to focus on the view.

Bed: Woodland; nightstands and chests: Century


The bed cover, custom-made in Stringer’s workroom, is a unique fabric composed of strings. Soft on the feet, the wool-and-silk-blend rug catches the light streaming in through the windows.

Chair and ottoman: Sherrill Furniture; area rug: Mougalian Rugs


The master bath features a chiseled stone backsplash inspired by the nearby mountains that homeowner Tracy likes to climb with the family’s two Labs. Another subtle nature reference is the cabinet pulls, which are made of rocks.

Trim paint: Utterly Beige SW-6080, Sherwin-Williams; floor tile: flat river pebbles; countertop, tub backsplash and sinks: Cafe Pinta stone


Despite the beauty and craftsmanship that went into restoring the original cottage and building the addition, nothing beats the view from the rear porch off the living room.

Whether your next project involves transitioning a vacation home to a permanent residence or you are building anew, I welcome the opportunity to discuss your project with you. With my 30 years of award-winning design experience, I am confident that together we can create your dream home.

You may view additional images reflecting my work by visiting DeniseStringerInteriorDesign.com or Houzz.

Denise Stringer
Interior Designer


2015 and 2016 Houzz Awards